Like a true fan-girl, when Unmumsy Mum & Giovanna Fletcher announced a joint book event, I snapped up my ticket like a 13-year old One Directioner.
I hadn’t bothered to ask any of my mates if they fancied going, which in retrospect was probably a bad idea. When I arrived at the Barbican, it was wall-to-wall with young mum friends, drinking prosecco and enjoying their well-earned night away from the kids.
I was genuinely the only person I could see who had decided to ‘go stag’ to this event. It reminded me of those early days of being a new mum, when you’d walk into a baby class or breastfeeding support group for the first time, and you felt like the loneliest person in the room.
Having made some failed attempts to sidle up to a few confused-looking groups, (and who could blame them – who wants to babysit a lost mum when you’re trying to catch up with your mates!) I took my seat in the auditorium and did what any self-respecting loner would do – I played Candy Crush on my phone.
All of this was quickly forgotten though, when Giovanna, Unmumsy Mum aka Sarah Turner, and host Bryony Gordon took to the stage.
Bryony was an inspired choice for host. Her fun, relaxed and easy stage demeanour meant that the conversation flowed naturally and never felt stilted. She had everyone laughing from the outset by making the sign-language interpreter sign ‘vagina’ and ‘sex’ over and over again.
The conversation began with a discussion about parental judgement. Sarah said she dislikes the idea that the media want her to be the poster woman for the ‘bad momma’, when she’s she’s a good, ‘real’ straight-talking mum.
They discussed the pressure to ‘get your old body back’ after pregnancy and how this is an absurd notion – you don’t ‘lose’ your body when you’re pregnant – it’s still very much ever-present!
There were lots of chuckles around how to spice things up in the bedroom after having a baby. Gi stayed very tight-lipped but Sarah said she considers removing her pyjama top as ‘spicing it up’ nowadays.
Things got quite raw when Giovanna opened up about her fertility issues and miscarriage. It was refreshing to listen to someone who is always in the media spotlight, put themselves out there about such an emotive and private subject. She felt empowered to talk about it openly after seeing other mothers do this online, and I’m sure her voice on this subject will only give strength to others going through the heartbreak of losing a child.
Bryony skilfully and sensitively led the conversation on to boobs and breastfeeding. Giovanna said that she stopped breastfeeding Buddy this week, and that her boobs are like rocks. Sarah talked about how hard breastfeeding was in the early days, and how she’d regularly ask herself ‘what the fuck am I doing???’
On the topic of oversharing, Sarah also cringed through a story about the time she blogged about her ‘fit bathroom tiler’ and he then he started following her on twitter! I’ll have to give that a go myself!!!
At the end of the conversation, there was a Q&A section, and I was able to ask Giovanna and Sarah about how they juggled childcare and working from home, as this is something I still struggle to get right.
I told them about the time Emily was on my lap at my desk and she inadvertently sent a direct message on my laptop to a business contact that was just a series of dollar bill symbols. Luckily, both Gi and Sarah found this amusing and all-too relatable, and both agreed that similar things had happened to them when working from home.
Giovanna said, ‘I try not to work past 10 so that me and Tom can have a glass of wine and watch some Netflix together’, at which point Sarah asked if that meant ‘Netflix and Chill’, which was met by major blushes from Giovanna!
Sarah then added that at the time they were going through the potty-training process with her son, she was on an important conference call to discuss the first book. She had to drop the phone and the bemused publishers mid-call, as her boy had taken a shit in the DVD cupboard! She made her apologies so that she could clean the poo off the Despicable Me 2 DVD. She added, ‘I guess that gives you an indication of what he thought about the movie!’
It was so reassuring (and hilarious!) to hear that they both experience the same trials with their kids when they’re trying to work – and it kind of makes the fact that these two have written a handful of books between them whilst raising babies all the more impressive!
I’m so glad I made the decision to go last night. Despite being Billy No Mates for a big chunk of the night, it was so lovely to meet Giovanna and Sarah and talk to them briefly about working and mothering. The whole experience has helped me refocus and it’s given me a new enthusiasm for my own blog-writing.
So many parts of the conversation last night really struck a chord with me. Especially what Sarah’s son did to Despicable Me 2 – I think that movie is shit too.